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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Gardening to Distraction: Answering reader’s questions - Growing carrot tops

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  • “…I tried to grow carrot tops but mine failed. How are yours doing?” – Jessica
    Charlotte: About 80 percent of mine have made it so far. I think the trick is to give them a good half inch of carrot as a base so the top has food as it establishes new roots. As you can see in the picture, I need to do some work amending my soil so it’s easier for the carrot root to grow downward. Now where is my compost?
    “Tulips I bought have stopped blooming. Now what do I do with them?” – Sharon
    Charlotte: You can plant spent tulips outside and have them bloom again in a couple of years. Don’t cut off the green tops. Let them die back to yellow and fall off. If you can’t wait that long, replant bulbs in your garden leaving greenery on top. In fall, give the bulbs a little bone meal mixed into the soil. In a couple of years, you should have tulips blooming again. Around here, most tulips only bloom for three to four years unless the soil is amended with compost. Mice also like to eat the bulbs for winter food.
    “How can I control chickweed without poison? Pulling it up is not likely to work in the place where we have it. Another question for the gardening and bee maven: Our backyard borders some woods. The area is kind of shady and there are dead patches there. Thinking about planting something bee-friendly. Any suggestions?” – Bob
    Charlotte: Chickens like to eat chickweed so that’s one safer option. If you can’t easily access the plants to pull them up, pour boiling water on their roots. You may need to repeatedly remove them before you completely clear the area of their seeds.
    In terms of shady, bee-friendly plants, clover is a good choice since it will grow in both sunny and shady areas. Other options include violets and self-heal, both which grow nicely in shade. Extend a flower border to make a wide swath to have larger areas of flowers to better attract pollinators than just filling in bare spots.
    “None of my daffodils bloomed this year. Do I need to dig them up and throw them away?” – Sandy
    Charlotte: Sounds like your daffodil bulbs need to be dug up, separated and re-planted. Once leaves start to turn yellow, dig them up gently so you don't cut through the bulbs or cut them off. You can either allow them to dry, then plant this fall, or get them back in the ground now, which I would be tempted to do. Give each bulb a good 4 inches in between so you don't have to dig them up for a few more years. This fall, also give them a little dose of bone meal to help them store energy for next spring and you should have blooming daffodils again.
    Page 2 of 2 - “This is a lettuce leaf. Is it big enough to eat?” – Bill
    Charlotte: There are a number of different lettuces one can grow at home. Most won't grow the size of grocery store lettuce. When it reaches 4-6 inches, it should be easy to harvest by gently tearing the leaf off at the plant base. Leave the roots in the ground. If weather stays cool, you may get a couple more crops before the plant bolts, or flowers. If leaves taste a little tart or sour, you've left them on the plant too long. Remove and let new leaves grow.
    “Why don't you have more photos of you?" -- Julie
    Charlotte: Heavens, no, I don't believe in selfies. Seeing what is happening in my garden is far more interesting, don't you think?
    Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a certified gardener sharing gardening tips in a changing climate. Copyright 2014 used with permission by Rolla Daily News and Waynesville Daily Guide. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at chargardens@gmail.com.

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